Monday, August 8th, 2011
It’s unfortunately not a hidden fact that our birth control program does not completely function on the farm, at least where fowl are concerned. Not that I begrudge the hens their insanely driven instincts to sit 23 hours a day in sweltering barns on what will ultimately hatch out to be a bunch of little ingrates. But, still, our goal here is to be available for animals who need a place to go, not produce more.
That said, I almost hopped up and down with delight upon discovering over the weekend that we have one little baby turkey. This little tyke runs around long leggedly looking like the Road Runner, squeaking and peeping, dashing in and out of fences, jumping up and down on and off of daddy’s back. Yes, daddy.
Having never grandmothered a turkey before, I don’t know if it’s common for the males to care for their young. It’s certainly not something I’ve ever seen any of our über-macho roosters do, and on the one occasion we had ducklings, they were firmly ensconced under mama’s bottom most of the time. The really odd thing is that I’m not sure who the mother is, because this little dude spends all of his time with Lurch, the only possible father. Well, at least I think he’s the father, and he believes he’s the father, and that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
The other night we had ferocious rains, and, knowing that Lurch is an outdoorsy sort of guy and prefers to sleep under the stars, I worriedly went outside to check on the little guy. I’ve occasionally found little drowned corpses. But no, he was safely tucked under his father’s left wing, warm and dry, even as Lurch braved the rains (quite unnecessarily, I might add, since he knows where the barn is, but you know how men are).
My dad also protected me through many rains; he did a large share of the caretaking when I was a little girl. He took me around to so many cool places (many of which my mother definitely would not have liked), taught me about decency and honesty and how to play pinball, showed me how to march to pipe bands (and even sometimes let me try out his Scottish bagpipes), quizzed me on spelling and math until I was top of the class, and sparked my long-lasting interest in foreign languages by playing Old Icelandic word games when I was 9 or so (yes, this is a true thing). He was willing to go on the most nausea-inducing rides at the amusement park, and he even made me breakfast every morning during my sullen I’m-a-teenager-I-hate-the-world-so-leave-me-alone years.
I recently lost my father. A short snippet of a story cannot begin to do him justice, but in a bizarre way that would quite assuredly irritate the cr*p out of him (“another animal story, Anne?”), I find watching Lurch care for his young turkey offspring immensely comforting. I think that I could not have possibly had a better, more interesting, more caring, smarter, or way cool father.
I’m betting that the little turkey tyke feels the same way.
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
— Mark Twain
Till next time,
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A haven for retired farm animals and wayward goats http://www.stargazingfarm.org
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